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Gracchus Babeuf

23 October 1794
French Revolutions and Revolutionaries 1791-1871' Collection, nr 1

The French revolutionary François Babeuf (1760-1797) went by the name of Gracchus. The Roman peoples' tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were his role model. In 1794 Babeuf had to hide from his political adversaries. On 23 October, from his hiding place, he wrote a fierce plea against tyranny and for the sovereignty of the people. "G. Babeuf, people's tribune, defender of the rights of man, of press freedom, and other freedoms" (as he described himself at the start of this manifesto), came to be known as the first communist. He led the secret society Conspiracy of Equals and ended under the guillotine in 1797, accused of wanting to overthrow the government.